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Welsh needs Terp win to secure seven-win season

Over George Welsh's 18 years as Virginia football coach, he has led the team to 10 bowl games, four bowl wins and, for the last 12 years, has helped the squad to at least seven wins every season.

Only three other teams have managed such a consistent seven-win season and the solidity of that feat will hang in the balance when the Cavaliers (6-4, 4-3 ACC) travel to Maryland (5-5, 2-5) to face the Terrapins at noon tomorrow in the last game of the regular season.

"There's only four teams that have done it, but we're kind of tired of just getting seven," Virginia quarterback Dan Ellis said. "Seven isn't good enough anymore. We want to get eight and nine."

Though many football fans would agree that a mere seven regular season wins falls very short of spectacular, seven victories is all the team and fans alike can hope for tomorrow.

But one thing that always will be spectacular about the team is Heisman candidate Thomas Jones. And in his last regular season game as a Cavalier, Jones will continue his hunt for the Heisman and the recognition he truly deserves.

Jones came three yards short of a single game rushing record last weekend after Welsh pulled him for fear of injury.

Usually not one to openly praise his players, Welsh spoke very highly Jones, who has led the Cavaliers all season.

"It's hard to think you'd come across anybody who's as dedicated to both his athletic and academic pursuits," Welsh said. "He has a lot of God-given ability, and he's done nothing but improve since he came here."

Jones, however, remains modest about the lack of recognition he has received in the Heisman race, and says simply being considered for the honor is enough.

"Whether I get invited to go [to New York] or not, I can always say I was a Heisman Trophy candidate," Jones said. "I don't like to get my hopes up about those kind of things because then if it doesn't happen you're not too disappointed."

While the Cavaliers are looking to continue their seven-win season, Maryland will be fighting to earn a berth to a bowl game, as another loss will toss them from consideration completely. And though Virginia can count on some type of postseason bid, a victory this weekend will better the bowl to which the Cavs get invited.

Maryland Coach Ron Vanderlinden said his team has improved throughout the season and is looking forward to tomorrow's match.

"We're a much better team than we were a year ago," Vanderlinden said. "We've gotten more physical, and we're starting to grow up as a football team."

Like Virginia, Maryland will place a lot of weight on the shoulders of its star running back, LaMont Jordan. Jordan posted an impressive performance against Florida State last weekend and looks to continue that against the Cavaliers.

"For LaMont to have 169 yards rushing [against Florida State] was a tremendous accomplishment," Vanderlinden said. "LaMont continues to do things that impress me. He's [had] a heck of a year."

Both teams have a lot riding on this game, which makes it much more than just a season-ender. It will determine how each team will do in the postseason.

"I'm not going to say that if we win we're going to the Peach Bowl," Ellis said. "It's pretty simple in our situation -- we just have to win"


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